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News Flash: Sitting on Your Ass All Day Isn't Healthy

| 13 Jan 2011 19:50
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Several studies prove that sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen, then going home to play games or watch TV is statistically unhealthy.

We've heard it so many times that we probably have a knee-jerk reaction at this point. "It's not healthy playing that game all day. You should take a break and go outside." I've heard that many times from my mother/spouse over the course my lifespan. As I entered the professional office world for the first time in my mid-twenties, I realized that I really did spend most of my day sitting at a computer, seeing as I filled most of nights and weekends playing Wow. I would mix it up by going to the gym during lunch but apparently that isn't enough to counterbalance the effect of sitting stationary for large amounts of time. The New York Times reported on a series of studies that showed anyone who spends significant amounts of time sitting is at a much greater risk for health problems like heart attacks.

A study of 4,512 Scottish men published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that those who spent 2 or more hours a day in front of a screen were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than those who didn't. And those that spent 4 or more hours were 50 percent more likely to die of any cause. The study showed that it didn't matter if the men said they exercised several times a week; the statistics were unaffected.

Other studies found that men who spend more than 23 hours per week sitting were more likely to die of heart disease and that children who watch TV for more than 1.5 hours a day have higher blood pressure than those who don't.

The paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology offers a possible scientific reason for the increased risk. Sitting slows down the body's ability to break down lipids (fats) and those fats and triglycerides stay in the bloodstream. If I learned one thing in biology class, it's that triglycerides are bad. (Or was that chlorophyll?)

This news doesn't bode well for those of us who might feel physically active but still spend most of their time gaming in front of their PC or TV. I like to think that I have a decently active lifestyle as I've been pretty good about working out once or twice a week. But when I count up the hours I spend at a computer per day (probably conservatively 8 hours,) I see that I'm firmly in the Sedentary Zone.

Maybe I should have tried to type this article standing up.

Source: NY Times

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